Social influence via threats

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Influence via threats was investigated in correspondent relationships (characterized by commonality of interest) and in noncorrespondent relationships (characterized by conflict of interest). In addition, the degree of informational power attributed by the influencee to the influencer and to himself, and the severity of threats used by the influencer were manipulated. The results point to the existence of two qualitatively different processes of influence. In correspondent relationships, threats are viewed as conveying the influencer's belief about the choice of action that would benefit both parties to the relationship. Further, the more severe the threat, the more confident the influencer would appear to be of his choice of action. As a result, the influencee's willingness to rely on the influencer's judgment, as conveyed by the threat, becomes an important aspect of the influence process. Such willingness is affected by the influencee's attribution of informational power to the influencer and to himself. In noncorrespondent relationships, on the other hand, suspicion and mutual distrust preclude reliance on threats as sources of information. Under such circumstances, social influence via threats becomes a simple process of coercion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-563
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1976


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